The calm to begin the year ends this coming Saturday as we get the first Dangan card of 2017, and it is a brilliantly intriguing card with two OPBF title bouts, and two very good looking support bouts.
The main event of the card will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (18-2, 6) take on Filipino foe Jeffrey Arienza (16-6-1, 10) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Light Welterweight title. The talented Naito will be looking for one of the most significant wins of his career, and whilst he will be favoured here he should be expecting to have a fight against Arienza. The Filipino visitor is far from a world beater but will likely know that one more loss is the end of him at this level, and he really cannot afford another set back if he's to remain relevant.
In a more 50-50 bout we'll see Filipino fighter Carlo Magali (22-9-3, 11) defending the OPBF Super Featherweight title against Japan's Masatoshi Kotani (22-2, 15). On paper this is a very interesting match up and will potentially see the winner move into a very intriguing position as fighters look towards getting a shot at the OPBF title. Magali and a limited but aggressive fighter and will take the fight to Kotani whilst the challenger will look to use his slightly better boxing skills to take the title from the champion. A really even match up.
Another mouth watering match up will see touted Teiken fighter Shuya Masaki (9-0, 5) take on Watanabe gym's Hironori Mishiro (4-0, 2) in what could be the surprise bout of the month. Masaki is ranked #3 by the JBC and will be looking towards getting a title fight later in the year, if he wins, but a win here is certainly no forgone conclusion. Mishiro has only been a professional for 10 months but has shone, and his October win over Shuma Nakazato was absolute incredible. This is set to be a war and should be something very special for fans watching.
Another very strong looking supporting bout will see Coach Hiroto (13-2-1, 4) take on the once beaten Ryo Hino (11-1-1, 6). The talented Hiroto took almost 5 years out of the ring until returning last June, and since then he has scored 2 wins. He will however be up against it here with Hino riding a 6 fight winning streak, including a huge win last time out against Sho Nakazawa. Coming in to this the 27 year Hino looks to be the man in form, and the man going places, but at 26 years old Hiroto shouldn't be over-looked in what appears to be a very competitive looking match up on paper.
In Illinois fight fans will be able to see American based Uzbek hopeful Rustam Tulaganov (1-0) take on the once beaten Martez McGregor (4-1, 4) in a 6 rounder. The 26 year old Uzbek was a former amateur standout, having claimed an Olympic Bronze medal and an Asian Championship's Silver medal and will be favoured here. The heavy handed McGregor has never been beyond 2 rounds and is likely to come out swinging here, win or lose.
After a huge day for boxing our attention turns to Okinawa for the only Asian show this coming Sunday, and if we're being honest, it's not a big one, despite every fighters of note being in action.
The most notable bout of the show is a rematch as unbeaten Filipino Edward Heno (10-0-5, 4) takes on local hopeful Seita Ogido (11-2-3, 3) for the OPBF Light Flyweight title. Earlier this year these two fought to a close bout, which Heno seemed to win, and was announced as the winner, before an issue with the scorecards saw the bout being announce as a draw, well after the original decision. The unbeaten Heno will be looking to avoid the judges this time around and we expect him to go out hunting a stoppage. For Ogido, who has drawn his last two bout, this is a must win and another set back will be hard to come back from, despite the fact he is only 24.
In an supporting bout we'll see OPBF ranked Super Featherweight Masatoshi Kotani (21-2, 14) take on Filipino ranked foe Jason Egera (23-17-1, 11). On paper the bout looks like a mismatch, with Kotani coming into the bout on an 11 fight winning run dating back more than 4 years whilst Egera has gone 2-9-1 in his last 12, however Egera can be a handful at times and has scored notable upsets through his career, including a win earlier this year against Glenn Suminguit.
Also on this card in a supporting bout is the unbeaten Shuma Nakazato (6-0-1, 5), who takes a notable step up against veteran Masaki Saito (13-12-6, 4). The unbeaten Nakazato, the son of 3-time world title challenger Shigeru Nakazato, reached the final of the 2015 Rookie of the Year, fighting to a draw with Teppei Kayanuma, but has only fought once since then. The 32 year Saito is a proper servant of Japanese boxing and whilst his record is messy he has been a true gatekeeper at the top of of the domestic scene. He has notable wins against the likes of Seiichi Okada and Takashi Inagaki and has held fighters like Tsuyoshi Tojo, Masashi Nogiuchi and Yuichiro Kasuya to draws. This might not look much of a fight on paper, but it is a real test for Nakazato.
For a second day running Japanese fans in Tokyo get a huge show at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo.
The main event here sees Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue (12-0, 10) defending his WBO Super Flyweight title against Mexican born American based challenger Ricardo Rodriguez (16-3, 5. The bout will be Inoue's 5th defense of the title and it's likely to be his last with his team talking about vacating the title later in the year, ahead of his US debut. The pressure is on the youngster to shine here but Rodriguez is tough and has never been stopped, and will be looking to score a career defining victory here.
The other world title fight here will see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (25-5, 15) battle against interim champion Milan Melindo (35-2, 12). The bout is, on paper at the very least, the most interesting of the 6 world title fights taking place this coming weekend and it looks like a genuine 50-50 match up. Of the two fighters Yaegashi is the more proven and the more well known, but he's also the older man and the man with a lot more miles on the clock. Melindo, the less proven fighter, is probably the more technically sound fighter, but a win here would be the biggest of his career by some margin.
The biggest mismatch on this card will see the once beaten Ryo Matsumoto (19-1, 17) battle against Hendrik Barongsay (29-25-3, 18) in what is little more than a stay busy fight for Matsumoto. The talented Japanese youngster looked better than ever last time out, blowing out Hideo Sakamoto in less than 2 minutes, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Barongsay last a similar amount og time here.
One of the biggest names on the under-card is former multi-time world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (32-3-1, 21), who will take on Masashi Noguchi (12-6-1, 6) in an 8 rounder. This will be Hosono's first bout since losing in October to Jonathan Victor Barros in an IBF world title eliminator. Aged 33 this will probably be the start of Hosono's last run, and he really can't afford another set back. Noguchi is a former Japanese title challenger, who lost in December to Shuhei Tsuchiya, and is the naturally bigger man, but a win here would be his best to date.
In another notable under-card bout we'll see 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (2-0, 2) take on his first domestic opponent, Takuya Yamamoto (8-6, 4). The bout should be a straight forward win for Shimizu, though it's probably fair to say that his eyes are on the future and it's hard to imagine him not fighting for a domestic title before the end of 2017, especially given that he's now 31 and doesn't have much time to waste.
Also on the under-card is the re-re-scheduled meeting between talented youngster Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) and Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5), who were originally meant to meet in the 2014 Rookie of the Year. The two were also meant to fight earlier this year. Sadly Hiraoka was forced to pull out of both the previous dates but will be looking to prove a point here. As for Yamaguchi he's going to be wanting to take his frustrations out on the younger man in what could be an under-card classic.
There will also be title action in Okinawa, albeit at a lower level as fans get an OPBF title fight.
That that OPBF title fight will see Japan's Seita Ogido (11-2-2, 3) battle unbeaten Filipino Edward Heno (10-0-4, 4) for the vacant Oriental Light Flyweight title. The title was vacated earlier this, by Ken Shiro ahead of his WBC world title fight with Ganigan Lopez, and the bout to crown a new champion does look like an interesting one. Ogido is seen as a promising youngster in Japan, and fought to a draw with the under-rated Jonathan Refugio earlier this year, suggesting there is talent there. Heno on the other hand is a bit of an unknown quantity, despite being unbeaten in 14 bouts, though he did impress last time out as he claimed the PBF title. This bout really could answer questions about both men.
The chief supporting bout here will see Masatoshi Kotani (20-2, 13) hunt an 11th straight win as he takes on Indonesian visitor Musa Letding (12-6-4, 6) in an 8 rounder. Kotani has been unbeaten since a 9th round stoppage loss to Filipino Cirilo Espino in 2012 and looks to have improved significantly since then. As for Letding he's 0-4 out side of Indonesia and will be looking for his first win on the road.
In another under-card bout we'll see the heavy handed Morihisa Iju (10-2, 8) battle against Masaya Kohama (6-5-1, 3). This bout will be Iju's third of the year, but will see him returning to the ring following a March loss to Ryo Kosaka and it's clear he'll be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats. Despite losing last time time out Iju should be favoured given that Kohama has been stopped in his last 3, with the most recent of those coming last July to Yohei Tobe.
There will also be a small card in the Philippines. The card here is very poor overall but the main event does look interesting as Pedro Taduran (10-1, 7) and Philip Luis Cuerdo (9-3-1, 4) battle for the PBF Minimumweight title in a good looking 10 rounder. Coming in the once beaten Taduran has won his last 4 and has rebuilt well following his first loss however Cuerdo was stopped last time out, whilst leading on the score cards.
The first show of 2017 in Japan takes place in Okinawa, and is an interesting one with 3 bouts of real note.
The most significant of those is the show's main event, which will see Seita Ogido (11-2-1, 3) battle with Filipino Jonathan Refugio (16-5-4, 4) for the WBC Youth Light Flyweight title, a title that was last held by Ken Shiro. For Ogido this is a second successive fight against a notable Filipino, following his August win over Jeffrey Galero, and will see him fighting over the 10 round distance for the first time. For Refugio the bout is a chance to claim a second WBC minor title, having won the WBC International Light Flyweight title last year, when he upset Richard Claveras. This is a really well matched bout and a great test for the two young men.
In the chief support bout we'll see Japanese veteran Go Onaga (27-3-2, 18) take on Filipino youngster Jake Bornea (11-2, 5). Both men are coming into this on the back of a loss, but they are bother at very different points of their careers. Onaga was last seen in August losing in an OPBF title fight against Rene Dacquel and it seems likely that his career will come to an end in the next year or two. For the 21 year old Bornea the bout sees him returning to the ring following a November loss in the UK to Andrew Selby. The Filipino will know that a win here will potentially get him in to the mix for an OPBF title fight whilst a loss for Onaga will speed up his retirement.
The third bout of note is also another Japan Vs Philippines bout and will see Masatoshi Kotani (19-2, 13) battle against Rey Laspinas (21-14-6, 12). Coming in to this bout Kotani is riding a 9 fight winning run and is slowly moving towards a title bout of his own, potentially later this year. Laspinas will be fighting in Japan for the 4th time, though is still looking for his first win in the country. It's hard to see a n upset here, but Kotani has been stopped by a Filipino under-dog before and will be looking to avoid that happening against here
The most notable of the two Japanese shows comes from Okinawa where fans get two interesting bouts, one of which features world ranked fighter facing a recent OPBF title challenger in the main event.
That aforementioned main event will fee IBF Super Flyweight hopeful Go Onaga (26-2-2, 18) battle against recent OPBF Flyweight title challenger Renoel Pael (19-2-1, 9) in what is a really interesting looking match up. Of the two Onaga is the more experienced, and the more proven puncher, but at 35 he knows the pressure is on him to perform and he can ill afford a narrow decision win. For Pael the bout sees him returning to his natural Super Flyweight division and being given a great chance to enter the world rankings. A really interesting match up, even if it won't get much attention outside of Japan.
The other bout of note sees the promising Masatoshi Kotani (17-2, 13) battle the limited but heavy handed Koichi Ito (10-4-3, 9). Of the two Kotani should be favoured however he does have a relatively padded record. On the other hand Ito is a dangerous and live under-dog, who has gone 1-3-1 in his last 5 but should never be counted out at the Japanese domestic level.
The other Japanese show comes from Aichi and although it too features two bouts of note they are lower in profile than the bouts in Okinawa.
The main event of the card is an intriguing match up at a contracted 56KG's and will see the 2015 Rookie of the Year of Super Bantamweight Renji Ichimura (6-2, 5) battle the big punching Takuya Mizuno (7-1-1, 7) in what looks likely to be an explosive contest. Both of these men are beatable, but both and bang and both are young, suggesting they may not have worries about respecting their opponent and may believe that they are the better puncher. No result would be a surprise here.
The chief supporting bout is anb 8 rounder between the experienced Yuji Shimizu (17-9-1, 1) and the limited Hajime Nagai (12-7-2, 3). Unlike the main event this one doesn't promise fireworks but should be a solid fight for the in attendance. Very much a “calm before the storm” type of fight though given just how mouth watering the main event looks.
Lanao del Norte, Philippines
In the Philippines fans will get the chance to see Jhon Gemino (12-6-1, 5) battle the limited Andrew Palas (5-4-1, 2) in a bout for the GAB Super Bantamweight. On paper Gemino is the favourite and it really is hard to imagine him being tested by Palas.
This coming Sunday sees the Japanese action continuing and whilst it's not the most exciting day of action there will be some knockouts courtesy of some really notable mismatches.
On a card in Hyogo Japanese fans will get the chance to see a former world title contender in action, though the card does look very poor.
The former world title challenger is Teiru Kinoshita (20-1-1, 4) who will be up against Thailand's Nongbeer Sor Bangkru (0-5). The Thai he has been brought in to lose to Kinoshita, who is said to be eyeing up an opportunity to reclaim the Japanese Super Flyweight title that he held for 2 years, and will be returning to Japan for the first time since he was stopped by Shun Kubo back in April 2014. Kinoshita, best known internationally for his loss to Zolani Tete in an IBF world title fight, will be doing little more than sharpening his tools here.
Another apparent mismatch will see Kazuya Murata (10-4, 4) facing an opponent that wasn't even named until the start of the month. When that happens you know the promoter has scrambled around looking for someone to come in and pad their fighters record. From what we understand the opponent is another poor Thai who has been brought in to lose.
The most interesting looking bout here is actually an 8 round support bout at Light Flyweight which will see former multi-time Japanese title challenger Kenichi Horikawa (27-13-1, 4) battle against Munehito Kijima (6-6-1). Kijima lacks any sort of a notable win though at 26 is coming into his prime and will know that a win here would set him up for a big fight. Horikawa on the other hand is now 35 years old and has had a long and hard career which in fact saw him beginning things with a 3-4 record. Since that poor beginning Horikawa has gone 23-9-1 and faced off against the likes of Akira Yaegashi, Florante Condes, Edgar Sosa, Ryuji Hara, Noknoi Sitthiprasert and Yu Kimura and often managed to really test his more notable foes. This could be Horikawa's last run or it could be a break out opportunity for Kijima.
In Okinawa we get a show that against appears to be mostly mismatches with three clear mismatches making up the bulk of the notable contests.
The main event will see OPBF Ranked Super Featherweight hopeful Masatoshi Kotani (15-2, 11) battle against Thai visitor Non Sithsaithong (12-7, 8). Kotani comes into this bout having won his last 5, including a close win over Filipino veteran Edgar Gabejan last time out. We're not going to pretend that Kotani is sensational but he's in solid form. Non on the other hand has won just 1 of his last 5 and has been stopped in 3 fights during that run and has in fact been stopped every time he has fought outside of Thailand. We suspect that will continue here.
An even bigger mismatch will see the world ranked Go Onaga (23-2-2, 16) battle against Thai 22 year old Saengkeng Saknarong (0-1). In his only previously recorded bout the Thai lasted 50 seconds with the then debuting Daigo Higa last June and it's hard to see him last long with the heavy handed Onaga. We admit we do like Onaga but he should be looking at making one more drive towards a title fight, not wasting time with this sort of farce.
Another mismatch will see Japanese based Filipino Dado Cabintoy (14-4-2, 7) battle the win-less Prayoot Saknarong (0-2). Prayoot has been stopped in both of his losses, both in Japan, and we suspect he'll be stopped again here, despite the fact that Cabintoy is not a big puncher.
On paper the interesting match up on this show is a 6 rounder which will see Yusuke Iju (6-4-1, 3) battle against Yoshiki Kawamura (4-6-1, 3) in a rematch of bout from last August. Unfortunately however their first bout was over after just 175 seconds with Iju taking an opening round TKO and it wouldn't be a huge surprise for Iju to pick up another early win here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)